Women in Construction
A brilliant mentor – Amanda Wojda, Reed Jones Christoffersen
By Mira Saba and Philip Parker
By Mira Saba and Philip Parker
Amanda is one of the most brilliant coworkers I have had the pleasure of working with. She has gladly mentored me throughout my entire 16 month internship at RJC Engineers teaching me the tips and tricks of the trade. Amanda has always made time in her busy schedule to make sure I fully understand the engineering concepts and deliverables, while giving me time to brainstorm my own solutions to problems before discussing together. She has consistently made an effort to come to site with me to point out deficiencies, the associated causes and potential solutions. Throughout my internship, Amanda made me feel more confident in my abilities. She is well aware of my capabilities and continued to assign projects that would challenge me. In addition, Amanda is never one to shy away from a challenge; she is committed to a career of life-long learning. She is an excellent project manager, clearly establishing schedule and deadlines, and holding herself and others involved accountable. In addition, she is one of the few on our team who has their rope access certification. Whether its +30C or -30C, Amanda is willing to take on any task to produce excellent quality deliverables for our clients in a time efficient manner. I am honoured to nominate Amanda Wojda for recognition as a Women in Construction.
- Mira Saba
Where does one start with Amanda …? A graduate of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology she and I started working together about 9 years ago. She joined out Team in Calgary as the first woman but she never let that define her role. Could I define her by her dogged pursuit of lifelong learning and professional advancement? That would be a good start as she is the first Professional Technologist in our entire firm of over 600 but that would hardly do her justice. Is it her solid commitment to outstanding projects and client service? As a multiple recipient of our Executive Committee Award for outstanding performance (frankly she’s received this aware so many times, I’ve lost count) that might also be valid.
Is it her commitment? The first one in the office every morning, I typically get my first e-mail from her at 6:30 am and she goes home when the work is done. Is it her special skills in high angle rope access? Amanda’s skill and strength along with her fearless nature allow her to get to places and inspect things we’d have difficulty getting to with a drone! More on commitment – Amanda has logged over 200 extra billable hours year over year for the last 8 years – that is 11% overtime and her efficiency (utilization ratio or billable to non billable hours) is over 85% – that is massive number in a consulting firm. Another note on commitment – if Amanda promises something will be done by a certain date or time, you can take that to the bank. Her word is her bond and she simply can’t abide failure. Amanda’s one weakness is she is rather intolerant of weakness in others – if you are unprepared to commit yourself fully or will accept marginal results, you probably shouldn’t work with Amanda.
We can discuss grit. A few years ago Amanda, a high level Crossfit athlete, developed a form of autoimmune arthritis that affected her joints and her feet in particular. Regrettably the treatment was almost worse than the disease and the medication prescribed caused her eyelashes to fall out and sores to develop in her mouth. Many days she looked so pale I effectively begged her to go home and rest .. but she refused. The pain in her feet prevented Amanda from wearing typical shoes opting for sandals or slippers while at her desk. In solidarity many of her colleagues adopted the slipper and it has now become a bit of an inside joke within our Team.
I expect a few others from our Team will also write words of support and discuss Amanda’s impact on them. As for me I’ve been blessed throughout my career to work with people of outstanding skill, intelligence and commitment. I am a much better engineer and person because of those that I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with – Amanda stands out in that crowd.
I encourage you to reach out and get to know Amanda yourselves. Now don’t be surprised if she is reluctant at first, because she eschews this type of recognition in general. Also Amanda is committed to wiping out any form of gender bias in the AEC industry to the point where she simply refuses to acknowledge that a ‘line’ exists.
- Philip Parker